Out With The Old

Out With The Old

Hi, guys!! Me-sa back from Yisrael!!! 😊 So much happened; it seemed so surreal, and dreamlike… I seriously did not want to leave (seriously—on impulse, during our second—and very long—flight, I had to fight the impulse to tell the pilot to turn the plane around, and head back toward Tel Aviv!!). I learned a lot, and am now able to connect a lot of the land (i.e., En Gedi, Scythopolis, the “Sea” of Galilee, which is really just a massive lake…) to Biblical stories in my brain-head. Our guide, David, was wonderful—not only super informative and helpful, but considerate, friendly, and unafraid to say it like it was; he is a true Israeli, through and through.

Annnyyyywwwwhhhhoooo….

So, while we were there at our first hotel, an old friend of David’s came to visit us; like David, he too was a Messianic Jew. But he was also a pastor, and gave a powerfully inspiring message to us that night, one that I’ve been wrestling with, TONS, and reflecting on ever since.

You see, like most of us, even believers, he had his passions, his hobbies. Even before he got Saved, for instance, he loved going to the movies. Later on in life, he even became involved in martial arts (which REALLY got my attention!). But, he felt convicted about partaking in these things. Why?

My first thought and objection was going to be that we should be allowed to have harmless but gratifying passions or hobbies that we can enjoy doing from time, so as long as there’s nothing inherently wrong with them. But he brought up one very valid point: God asked him to compare how much time he spent doing his respective hobbies, and how much time the pastor spent with Him. For movies, the guy spent an unhealthy amount of time, like at least a few HOURS a DAY, on a DAILY basis, versus the fifteen minutes he gave God before bed each night.

Doesn’t seem quite fair, does it? Buuuutttt… It DOES seem STRIKINGLY familiar…  (*cough* Netflix… *cough*)

Now, as a fangirl, my primary guilty pleasure is my fandoms–my little, well, obsessions. It’s very easy for someone like me to get sucked up into a GOOD fandom, and start fangirling pretty hardcore (depending on what it is, after all). But, I think God’s been nudging me ever since that night, and has given me something of an ultimatum: Either I give them up completely, or like and enjoy BUT don’t idolize them.

Yes. I used the “I” word.

Because, if you really think about it, that’s what an obsession is, isn’t it? An idol. The light of your life, what you think and talk about the most, what you give the most time in your life to, willingly. Now, I am NOT saying school is necessarily an idol (for you fellow students, that should not be an excuse to NOT do your homework!), but I could see how it could become one, with competition for good grades, and constant pressure to do well. But with fandoms, it’s generally a LOT more obvious: Cosplayers, line-quoters (seriously, we should be quoting SCRIPTURE, not MOVIE/BOOK LINES, guys!!!), fantasizing about making out with a fictional boyfriend or girlfriend, you name it. They all sound idolatrous, and in fact I can think of at least TWO Scriptures that go against that last one (which I am equally guilty of committing, mind… And I’m sure you can guess who with…). It’s convicting, to say the least.

 

So what should we do about it?

If you’re anything like me, you likely have multiple fandoms. This doesn’t make it a super bad thing! You can still like stuff, and even fangirl/fanboy over it, to a degree. But it should not be your primary reason for living, nor should it consume your thoughts almost every waking 24 hrs. Jesus deserves that spot, guys, not a fandom. Not an earthly obsession. I’ve seen/heard about plenty of those obsessions taking a turn for the worse, and the end results aren’t pretty. It’s like how I’ve been with Harry Potter; I was too obsessed when I was younger, but now I just like and enjoy it, but am not “into” it. Sometimes, people are– literally or spiritually– scarred or damaged for life.

I would say that God is offering you the same ultimatum He has been offering me: Him, or the fandoms. We can’t worship both, as stated in Scripture. No human can serve two Masters, and sadly, I know a good many people who would not choose God (which breaks my heart, btw) over their fandoms. But! I think I know some who, when it boiled down to it, would. And I would encourage you to do the same.

 

They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.

            Romans 1:25, NIV

 

            “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.”

            Luke 16:13, NIV

Love you guys, and I promise there will be more, soon.

~~O.R. Moore

ISRAELSELFIE

Me near the Western “Wailing” Wall in Jersusalem. More pics to come!

Cover picture of Yisraeli flag that I took at Masada. 

 

Advertisements

“The Last Jedi”– And a Multitude of Fangirling

“The Last Jedi”– And a Multitude of Fangirling

OK, first off… apologies for the lack of posts. Between senior seminar, finals, other homework, then FINALLY being off on break for some SERIOUS, MUCH-NEEDED INTROVERSION— Well, you get the picture.

December, this year, for the most part, is my happy month, guys. For four reasons: 1., Christmas (the obvious), 2., I got yet another 3.8; 3., I AM GOING TO ISRAEL IN LESS THAN A WEEK!!!!! And 4., The Last Jedi. 

(Don’t worry; you guys will get pictures galore when I’m back– maybe even a post or two, seeing as how I’ll be chronicling my travels in a physical journal the whole time 😉  But anyways)

So, as you guys know, I am a MAJOR, major, major “Star Wars” geekette. I have a purple lightsaber in my closet as we speak (light-up, too– though, I STILL WANT MY INDIGO LIGHTSABER!!!! ARRRRGGGGHHH), glued to every single episode of Rebels that’s ever been out, as well as some “Rebels Recon” (and most of “Clone Wars”), am in possession of most of the Complete Star Wars Visual Dictionaries (I am planning on buying The Last Jedi one soon), and became so recently appalled at my youngest cousins (ages 10-15) NEVER HAVING SEEN STAR WARS BEFORE, I made SURE to give them the chance to have some mandatory viewings before Episode VIII.

Which brings me to….

The EPISODE VIII REVIEW. (dun dun dun duuuuuunnn…)

WARNING! SPOILERS AHEAD! IF YOU HAVE NOT WATCHED THE LAST JEDI, YOU SHOULD not READ ANY FURTHER! THIS IS YOUR FINAL WARNING!!!

In brief, for the most part…

I. Loved. It.

OK, maybe “love” is a bit strong: I would say, “really, really liked” is probably more accurate. But in actuality, Episode VIII is probably one of my fave SW Eps.

Sure, there were some dumb things with Poe and the whole mutiny thing, but the Rey’s training, Rey and Kylo, and the awesome SW animal things totally made up for that. Those things made Episode VIII worthy of my love (yes, at the risk of me sounding like Lusamine 😛 ). And, all things considered, the number 8 IS one of my two fave numbers, so I gotta say, no pressure or anything, Johnson— putting up high expectations out there, but for the most part, they were met.

So, here we go! As always, we’ll go with the criticisms first, then add with positive closures:

CONS:

  1. The whole Poe Mutiny thing. It was just kinda stagnant for me, and made it more like an episode of “Rebels” than an actual legit SW movie. Didn’t really move for me. Same with Rose and Finn’s mission, it didn’t feel as genuine as the mission with operation Starkiller base shutdown (aka remake of Ep. IV) in The Force Awakens. Then I ended up being confused of who to root for when Leia became conscious and outright STUNNED Poe for his mutiny. Which side is the “good guy” side here?
  2.  Rey being too repetitive, when meeting Luke. She starts to sound like a broken record at times, continually relaying Leia’s message of hope and urging him to join the Resistance,  instead of just answering his own questions half the time. It made her sound less realistic, and more like one of MY “pamphlet-y” characters (*cough* Guy… *cough*). This isn’t good, because Rey is such a good, strong, sassy character. She’s more than a recording playback of hope, Johnson. You already had that throwback of Leia’s recording via Artoo to nail that one on the head.

Rey1

3. Why DID Luke Skywalker pull an Obi-Wan on us? Rather  than fully face something he believed he triggered, Luke doesn’t show up to confront his fears and face them himself; he sends only an apparition of himself. He owns up, but doesn’t show up. This cowardly behavior is reflected in his initial refusal to teach Rey anything about the Force: He’s afraid of creating or triggering another Kylo. It’s this reason that he says he’s seen that kind of power once before, and while it didn’t frighten him into sense then, it did now. However, this fear leads to him not really resolving his problems, only running away and hiding from them. He literally was so dejected about the whole stupid thing being his fault that he went off to end the Jedi Order by dying, alone, on secluded Ach-To. He didn’t even fully die– just vanished into the Force, like Obi. Why? The world may never know, but it seems slightly cowardly to me.

Luke2

PROS:

  1. The new critters. Oh. My. Gosh. This film is living proof that there are really cool and cute creatures in the SW universe, not just Hutts. Or Nexus. Or Acklays. Or… Well, you get the gist. In Episode VIII, we get the Vulptices (ice foxes). Those cool, beautiful creatures that Rose and Finn need to ride to get to safety, that look like they’re part horse, part kangaroo, part something else. And, MOST IMPORTANTLY….

PORGS!!!!!

porg

#Chewieapproves

We first spy these little penguin-like guys on Ach-To, and later, we learn (with much dismay), that Chewie has been ROASTING THEM OVER AN OPEN FIRE FOR SUSTENANCE. Three poor little porgs look up at him like, “What are you doing?” making him growl, and they scurry off; one brave lil porg remains, looks up at him with huge, watery, eyes, and gives a tiny, pitiful little cry like, “Budddddyyyy…. Why are you eating my buddy?” and Chewbacca ROARS a bit to scare that one off, and thus ease his conscience. We later see him having made amends with the adorable beings, however, by taking them on the Falcon to hitch a ride for kicks.

I want a plushie porg, and I want it now. And unfortunately, the cheapest I can find are on Amazon for no lower than $52. WIM. T_T Why me???

2. Rey’s Jedi Training. Rey finally starts on the path to what she is destined to be, and will be the ultimate tide-turner for the story as a whole. In fact, I feel like the whole story of the three new movies is a major telling of HER story. She, not Finn or Poe, is the true protagonist, or the major protag. Because, if you think on it– in The Force Awakens, the Force has literally been awakened in her; she learns that she’s Force-sensitive. In The Last Jedi, she is literally the last, singular, Jedi at the end of the film, as well as according to Luke. I feel like the film titles alone dictate her destiny, or at least what happens to her specifically in each film. I can hardly wait to see what happens to her in the final installment!

3. THE WHOLE DYNAMIC BETWEEN REY AND KYLO. I could literally go on for pages about this (seriously, someone shut me up if I start fangirling too much here). One major motif I noticed even in the trailers ( and thought about a LOT while watching the movie) and found thoroughly fascinating was the whole idea of them being a LITERAL balance of good and evil, light and dark. Kylo’s “dark” but struggles with resisting the light; Rey has the opposite problem: She’s fighting for “good,” but is somehow called by the “evil,” and finds it surprisingly difficult to resist. While I could write a little sermon-post on this interesting topic, on how it relates to human nature as a whole (and perhaps someday I will…), now is not ideal; however, this does affect their relationship a great deal. Thanks to a certain individual’s interference, the two interact a lot more and actually get to know each other better. While Rey initially thinks Kylo’s a monster (as implied in Ep. VII), she gradually warms to the fact that he’s only fallen, only twisted (“twisted” in this sense meaning that he is a warped version of initial good) because of a sad backstory, and eventually comes to believe he needs her help in returning to the light. However, we eventually see that Kylo has the mirror sentiment of her; he believes her own ideals are “twisted,” and senses her own inner conflict, and believes he can help her in turning to the dark side. There is returning familiarity with these scenes as they grow more and more comfortable with each other’s presence, that reminds me strongly of the Darkling coming to visit Alina numerous times, via corporeal visions, in Siege and Storm. And maybe it’s just me, but I think because he gets to know her, because he can relate to her inner struggle, that he might even be ATTRACTED to her. Sound far-fetched? Well, in one vision episode, he appears to her SHIRTLESS (obviously intentional) and she, somewhat embarrassed, asks him to put something on, clearly flustered (he doesn’t). Later, when in Snoke’s throne room, and on our way to Snoke’s room in the elevator, we see several direct parallels:

Kylo’s conversation with Rey mirrors a similar one Darth Vader had with Luke Skywalker, when Skywalker comes to redeem him– Vader also wished to turn his son to the Dark Side.

Kylo’s act of killing Snoke and sparing Rey mirrors Vader’s albeit more selfless act of killing Hideous– sorry, SIDEOUS– to spare Luke’s life.

Kylo literally offering Rey the chance to rule alongside him. Not beneath him, not just to JOIN him, but ALONGSIDE HIM. This parallels Vader TWICE: When Vader told Luke they could rule the galaxy side-by-side, as father and son, and when Vader made that same offer to Padme Amidala, albeit in a slightly more romance-oriented sense.

I believe that Kylo meant more of the latter here, even saying that while most saw Rey only as nothing, a lowly scavenger at best, he knew she was something special, and meant much more than that to him. Again, I get a very Darkling-and-Alina vibe here, which is probably why half my body and mind is screaming, “JOIN HIM, YOU FOOL” (because, what can I say, still suffering from a loss of Darklina shippings…), the rest saying, “Oh, you know she’ll only resist.” And yup, sure enough, she does. She tries once to get him to the Resistance’s side, major fail (don’t do that to a passionate guy; he’ll take that as dissing his passions). Even after she has rebuffed him, though, this doesn’t stop him from calling out to her one. Final. Time. At the very end, before she leaves with the Resistance. And it’s heart-wrenching, because of the look she gives him before the door shuts, severing their connection. It’s a look I imagine Alina giving the Darkling, but even she was more sympathetic.

joinme

4. The Yoda cameo. Because seeing old friends is always a pleasant surprise for nostalgic old geezer fans like myself (and even older).

Shipping-wise: Initially, I shipped Finn and Rey, but now I’m thinking of Rey and Kylo a LOT more (namely because sucker for sympathetic villains.). And now considering events in the new film, I gotta say I’m also leaning towards shipping Rose and Finn, too. Because reasons. 😉

Anyways, though this film had a few bugs to work out, and a couple unanswered questions, I do want a couple things to happen:

I want another animated series, similar to Clone Wars and Rebels, only this time, set RIGHT AFTER this film. So, similar to Rebels in some manner, but I want to see Finn and Rose’s, as well as Kylo and Rey’s, relationship bud and blossom. This stuff takes time, more time than could ever be conveyed super realistically in a single film (unless you count the whole, “time day skip” thingy, but we aren’t gonna count that). I want Rey to talk to Yoda’s, Luke’s and Obi-Wan’s ghosts. I want to see her training more. I want her training younglings, the future of the Jedi. I want more Kylo Ren temptations. (I don’t know if I would’ve resisted, if I were her, or not…) GOSH DANGIT GUYS, I WANT IT ALL!!!!!

I do want the final installment to have answers to my questions, including why Luke chickened out, is Rey going to cave (got a feeling that answer is “no,”), is Kylo going to slowly about face and start to turn to the Light Side, why did Chewie stop eating porgs (other than their unadulterated cuteness), and so much more.

My final rating: 4 outta 5 stars. Sooooo close, Johnson; just a BIT more!!!

 

___________________________

Image Credits:

http://www.insidethemagic.net/2017/10/top-5-jaw-dropping-moments-star-wars-last-jedi-trailer/

https://www.inverse.com/article/37276-star-wars-last-jedi-trailer-porgs-twitter

https://techcrunch.com/gallery/heres-the-new-star-wars-the-last-jedi-trailer-as-scene-by-scene-gifs-to-tear-apart/

https://www.engadget.com/2017/04/14/star-wars-the-last-jedi-trailer/

What Sai and Mitsuki Have in Common with Your Not-So-Average Aspie

What Sai and Mitsuki Have in Common with Your Not-So-Average Aspie

Ah, Asperger’s Syndrome.

That unfortunate semi-flaw of mine that gives me the bluntness of Luna Lovegood, the brain of Sheldon Cooper (in a girly, book-nerd, more spiritual way, of course), and, lastly…

The tact and social awkwardness of both Sai and Mitsuki (but particularly the former) from Naruto and Boruto, respectively. These two, in fact, could pretty much be anime poster children for my fellow Aspies and I. Here’s how:

  1. Lack of outward physical expression and feelings. Aspies don’t often, if ever, openly convey what they’re feeling, unless it’s something like they don’t get what they want. Likewise, Mitsuki and Sai are both incredibly hard to read, on the outside, because they’re essentially blank slates– even literally, in a sense. After all, Mitsuki’s name literally means, “snake vessel,” referring to the fact that he is a partial clone of Orochimaru; Sai, on the other hand, goes through Anbu Black Ops training from a very young age, has erased essentially most ties and emotions in his brain’s databank, and is initially forced to rely on his “fake smile” to get him through working with others.

sai1

2. Lack of obvious tact. This one is a lot more apparent in Sai than in Mitsuki, but both really have a habit of stating the inappropriately obvious, but in the wrong way, time, and place. Sai will outright insult people, and not even really know he’s doing it, often with an attitude of, “Oh, I’m sorry, I would think you’d already know.” This problem gets somewhat resolved later, when his teammates quickly urge him not to call their stout friend Choji “fatso,” and Sai decides to, instead of calling someone what they are/what he thinks they are, to lie and say the opposite of what he thinks they are– leading him to call Ino (his future wife), “beautiful,” to the chagrin and anger of Sakura. On Mitsuki’s half, he is more controlled, but is still pretty blunt; for instance, when ChoCho and Sarada are talking about ChoCho possibly not being related to her parents (and trust me, the similarities ARE there pretty plainly), Mitsuki pops in unexpectedly to give his input, saying that he can tell she’s an Akimichi from not only her family crest, but from her physique as well (she’s Choji’s daughter). He labels her with,”Tragic Heroine Syndrome,” a condition he claims affects girls like her around this stage of life, and one of the primary symptoms being that girls question their identities. Talk about a little harsh.

Mitsuki1

3. Don’t know how to socially physically act/ react to certain people, and/or in certain situations. Poor Sai, he tries so hard to make an effort, relearn everything, and even has a little guidebook that he carries with him everywhere to try to help him socially and physically. For instance, look at how he tries to comfort Naruto in one scene, when the book advised him that physical comfort and embraces were the best way to go (My first thoughts: “Welp, this is about to get awk…ward…”). Sure enough:

naruto_and_sai___funny_moment___animated_gif_by_painbooster2-d5a5u4e

4. Obsessions! As an Anbu member, of course Sai would be obsessed with his missions, but he also gained an obsession for learning how to communicate and bond properly with other people (not a bad thing in THEORY…). Mitsuki, on the other side of the fence, is pretty clearly obsessed with having Boruto as his best friend (and no, NOT in a romantic sense, to all you politically correct people out there!), calling him his “sun,” while Mitsuki is the “moon”. Don’t know what that means, exactly, but Mitsuki formed a pretty quick attachment to Boruto, follows him around discretely a TON (before seemingly popping outta nowhere, usually freaking out/ scaring Boruto in the process, and being all, “Hey, what are we doing? 🙂 “). It gets to the point where he is willing to forego almost any behavior, save for what his dear old dad advocates him to do, to win over Boruto’s good opinion, such as when he viciously fought Iwabee Yuino in a practice battle, on his first day of school, and Boruto berated him for nearly strangling his friend. Mitsuki stopped instantly on hearing how much Boruto disapproved, and vowed not to do such again (at the very least, not in front of him.).

mitsuki2

^Mitsuki popping in unexpectedly while Sarada Uchiha tells Boruto how blue his eyes are, compared to Naruto’s

_____________________________

Image Credits:

https://painbooster2.deviantart.com/art/Naruto-and-Sai-funny-moment-animated-GIF-319399358

http://blog.naver.com/PostView.nhn?blogId=satani&logNo=110190590268

“Halayda”– Fae a la YEAH!

“Halayda”– Fae a la YEAH!

 

Hey, y’all!

Sorry that it’s been AGES; work and stuff’s been driving me up the ROOF. But anyways, enough excuses– time to get down to the nitty-gritty.

Today I’m going to be reviewing a new fave book of mine, a book called, “Halayda,” the first in a series called the “Star-Fae Trilogy,” by Ms. Sarah D. White. (Who I would love to interview on here for you guys, but we’ll see what happens! 😉 She is really nice; we’re FB pals, and I’ve already asked her a good bit about the characters!) Long story short, I won the chance to get a free book from Uncommon Universes Press, an indie publishing company, and, after much contemplation, settled on this book (it was between that, the “World Building” book, and “Coiled”. Which I still may buy and review later.). This series is going to be my very clean sub for the “a lot less than clean,” Sarah J. Maas series, “A Court of Thorns and Roses,” which I have no to little desire to read namely because of aforementioned reason. But “Halayda’s” pretty clean– some cursing, here and there, but nothing super vile. For the most part, I was pretty satisfied and overall really liked the plot, the characters. But it distresses me, however, that, since it’s published by an indie publishing company, the hype is considerably less… so I’m going to be giving her a little boost in the marketing department… 😉

It was so good, but so under-hyped, that I was genuinely shocked that there was NO REAL ART OF HER CHARACTERS!!! (This is a book that’s good enough to be made into a movie that we’re talking about here.) I mean, aside from two portraits from Julia Busko of Taylan and Sylvie respectively (which were NOT how certainly pictured either of them– she forgot Sylvie’s waviness in her hair, and Taylan looks like a red-haired Legolas…), there was nothing, zip, nada. Which is why I’m eventually going to dedicate an entire post on here, my blog, to nothing BUT “Star Fae Trilogy” characters. I may not be as experienced an artist as Busko, and my phone may take extremely shoddy pictures, but it’s worth a shot at doing them justice! (Already did Casimir, since no one else did. I wanted him done the MOST, and man alive, did he turn out great! Sarah herself was very pleased 🙂 So that made my day! Taylan and Sylvie are up next– debating on whether to draw Syl with or without her wings– then Diza, then Zad.)

It also helped that a lot of the characters would often say, “Stars,” in amazement, reminding me immensely of The Lunar Chronicles.

(early apologies for formatting; my “insert,” tab is NOT favoring me today…)

Anyways, here’s my take on her, “Halayda” (I’ll do my best to limit major spoilers!):

Story Summary:

A mortal alchemist and a faerie king align and join forces to protect both their realms, but specifically the cruel, manipulative Star-Fae Casimir, who purposely endangers Faerie in order to draw out the Faerie Savior, known as the Dragonfly. Along the way, the protags are aided by sass masters, as well as hubby and wife, Zad and Diza, two other faeries (Pooka and Dulahna, respectively), some members of the Faerie Royal Court, and also– eventually– the Wild Hunt (consisting of pookas, kellishes, and cuanns 😉 Look ’em up!) in the task of stopping Casimir and restoring the realm.

What was Done Well:

  1. The Characterization. The characters were played off beautifully, so realistically. The sass could’ve been upped a tad for my taste, but I did enjoy the playful banter she had between Zad and Taylan, Sylvie sassing Casimir, and Diza sassing Velene. There’s no better verbal play against villainy than sassiness! 🙂 The romance was also subtle at times, not too mushy. That aside, I did like how she didn’t try to make her characters too perfect; Taylan had a HUGE skeleton in his closet and was very secretive, whereas Sylvie not only had the burden of saving the whole world shoved onto her shoulders all of a sudden, but she also was very insecure about herself, about her abilities. Her wanting to hide under her blankets and snuggle up when things got bad reminded me heavily of, well, me (Yes, I have a comfort pillow that I hug. A lot. Sue me.). She also reminded me greatly of Alina Starkov, in that aspect– both are very down about themselves and their abilities, and both have villains who kinda sorta take credit for giving said female protags power, and shame them when they don’t use it.insecuritygif
  2. The Detail. Some of it was more detailed than others, but I loved how she described the Wellspring, her characters’ appearances, the shifting mountain where all the past, present, and futures are connected and can be seen. AND THE FATE THREADS!!! She did herself very well in the world-building department. wellspring3. Suspense-Building. The tension was already there at the equinox party thingy, but it exploded into immediate chaos after Caylus and Cronies Co. decided to crash the party with tons of alchemical poisons, dousing Taylan’s realm and affecting everyone in it. Needlesstosay, some (OK, probably most) members of his Court were NOT too happy about it, and this builds up until we eventually reach… TREACHERY!!! (And the “lesser of two evils” kind of logic. Go figure.)treasongif4. The Faerie Groups. If you know me, I like categorization. I’d say order too, but then I’d be at risk of some nutjob like Casimir trying to butter up to me. But annnyyyywwwhhhoooo… I love categorization, like the factions in Divergent, like the Grisha orders in The Grisha Trilogy, etc. So naturally, I liked all the orders of Faerie put into the book for your convenience, so you weren’t totally lost.
  3. 5. Finally, I LOVED how she blended alchemy with magic– two worlds collide!! Literally. Enough said.

What Needed a Bit of Work:

  1. Plot talky– more tell than show. This was one of the few things that someone else pointed out that made me think, “They have a good point…” As much as I loved the book, the story, the characters, something was a little off. Something that was preventing it from FULLY achieving ULTIMATE GREATNESS, and being up there with the rest of the fabulous, really great books. That something was, primarily, not so much showing as telling. If it’s any consolation to Sarah, though, I’m probably equally guilty of this vice, and struggle with it quite often. I like to talk, to explain, when I NEED to learn to IMPLY. You can say just as much, if not more, than the average explanation by just implying or even STRONGLY implying something. She does sometimes, just not most of the time. And that’s OK– just something to remember and work on, in the future.
  2. The glossary at the front of the book. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED the glossary, it was really, really helpful. BUT I feel like when you put it at the FRONT, right in FRONT OF the story you’ve written, it’s like you expect readers to memorize every little thing– and I know that’s not true, that it’s there to help clarify, and for their benefit. As a reader, I’d much rather look BACK, towards a glossary that’s in the same place as an index. Keep-Calm-and-Write-On
  3. Lastly, the cursing. Granted, I know, it’s a part of everyday speech. This comment is probably more of a personal preference, more than anything. I was a little surprised to find it in a believer-authored book, and although SUPER strong language isn’t used, it was still frequent enough to bother me a hair (I think it was actually more frequent in this book than in, “Shadow and Bone” O.O). For me, when I write, I’d much rather say, “So-and-so swore…” and get on with the rest of the sentence; I noticed Ted Dekker does that a good bit, as well. But maybe that’s just me. 🙂

Overall, great book from a great author. Am looking forward to reading book two of the trilogy when it hits the market early 2018, seeing the Diza-Casimir confrontation, and stopping whatever Casi’s up to next!

My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars (like I said– I’m a hard rater, but anything 3 and up is really good, by my standards!).

___________________________________

Image Credits:

http://jmhackman.com/2017/04/04/guest-post-by-sarah-delena-white-author-of-halayda/

http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/34210549-halayda

https://tenor.com/view/palpatine-treason-star-wars-emperor-gif-8547403

http://www.hippoquotes.com/davina-joy-quotes-tumblr

Over The Moon with”The Lunar Chronicles”

Over The Moon with”The Lunar Chronicles”

 

I’ve been meaning to post on here (eventually) about my newest love for a newer, non-Grisha-Trilogy book series, but haven’t really had the time… until now.

Enter the Lunar Chronicles. Dun dun dun duuuuunnnnn….

For those not in the know, “The Lunar Chronicles” is the series you want to delve into if you like fairy tales, “Once Upon A Time,” “Star Wars,” or just fantasy. Think SW meets the Grimm Brothers a la Terminator.

Now, while the idea of crime-fighting cyborgs GENERALLY doesn’t appeal to someone like yours truly, I will say I made the exception. Just this once, for this FANTASTIC series (besides, it’s portrayed in a manner very similar to extremely handy prosthetics.  I think I’ll live.). Not too long ago, I finished the series with hungry bravado, before finals even started, but unfortunately, have not begun to write said review until afterwards (Because busyness. I apologize profusely.). That being said, the read was worth it. And reviewing it tonight will be worth me forgoing and sacrificing the Taekwondo forms I was going to practice for exercise tonight(because, let’s be honest, I haven’t been practicing consistently for a week… :/ oh well, guess there’s always tomorrow… I have the whole danged week, after all…).

So anyways, enough chit chat; let’s get to the nitty gritty!

Pros/ What was done well:

  1. The Characters and Characterization. I seriously love what Marissa Meyer does here; she basically takes a classic fairy tale, puts her own spin on it, AND still has elements that causes it to remain true to the original stories. And if you look for the character parallels, you WILL find them. (i.e., Aimery Park= Queen’s Mirror; Jacin the royal guard= the huntsman in “Snow White,” etc.) If you look for storyline parallels, they are usually there, in some way, shape or form. But I also love what she did with all the characters. Cinderella= Cinder, the spunky, sassy cyborg mechanic who is (spoiler alert) the long-lost Lunar princess. The Big, Bad Wolf= semi-mutated human-wolf hybrid former soldier who went rogue, for the sake of his love, who happens to be Little Red’s counterpart. Rapunzel= expert and extra adorable hacker shell girl who has spent too much time in her satellite hovering around Earth, and little actual time in the real world. Her crush, Thorne, literally pilots a ship called the Rampion (another name for the plant called, “rapunzel”.). Snow White= an extremely kind princess, who is kind to the point that it literally costs her her sanity. Literally. In fact, the last one reminds me a LOT of Luna Lovegood, in a good, charming way. 🙂rampioncrew
  2. The SHIPS. Oh GOSH. THE FREAKING, FLIPPING SHIPS. Sooooooo many freaking ships, and while ordinarily this would bother me, Meyer pulls it off pretty well. They don’t obstruct the plot all that much; they contribute to it. Almost everyone is paired with SOMEONE suited for them and their story/situation, and none of the ships bother me (unless you count the possibly shipping Sir Hayle with Levana in Fairest. 😛 ). My fave ship is probably Kainder (Prince Kai + Cinder); they’re both royalties with the weight of nations upon their shoulders– I love it how they can connect and easily relate to each other, how Cinder doesn’t have to manipulate him to get him to like her, like some Lunars would. It’s adorable, almost as adorable as Cress. cress1
  3. I find the amount of “Star Wars” references almost… disturbing. Disturbingly GOOD, that is. Meyer herself admitted that Thorne and his beloved ship are (obviously) based off of Han Solo and the Millenium Falcon, Iko is kind of inspired by R2-D2, plus, we have some intergalatic political matters, and glamours (her own version of a “Jedi Mind Trick”) underway. So instead of “these aren’t the droids you’re looking for,” it becomes, “these aren’t the wanted criminals who are trying to take down the Lunar Queen that you’re looking for”. Add a touch of Panem fashion to some of the aristocratic Lunars’ fashion statements, and BAM! Brilliance. (OK, OK, I’m geek-biased… sue me. LOL)
  4. The sympathy for Levana does NOT ECLIPSE HER VILLAINY!!! First off, BRAVO. This is a very, very difficult thing to pull off, even for talented authors. I cannot honestly express this enough: give a little too much in the “sympathy” department, and people are going to feel sorry for them to the point of perhaps even defending the villain’s cruel actions, which you do not want. On the other hand, a boring, “mwa-ha-ha” villain often dulls the plot; complexity adds interest. Meyer does this pretty well; Levana is given something of a sympathetic backstory, having neglectful parents who were assassinated when she was young, along with an abusive older sister. BUT she chooses, from then on out, to make bad choices, purposely– and, with each bad choice, transforms her into a crueler person. From murdering her beloved so she could form a political alliance, to trying to kill her own niece to keep her throne, Levana has a beautiful glamour, and is vicious, with the right amount of an interesting story to keep the pages turning. I rarely hear voices of sympathy or defense of her actions from fans, it’s done so well. You, Ms. Meyer, get the medal of the evening. *applause*levana
  5. Research. Meyer obviously did extensive research on certain things in her books, whether it was mechanics, survival-based, etc. Not every author does this, and does it well; some people make stuff up without really looking into anything. But yeah, it goes to show you, a lot of research really pays off in the end.

Cons/ What could have been done better:

Honestly, not a whole lot, so I’m not even really going to make a list on this one. There were maybe one or two minor things in the storyline that either bothered me a tiny bit, or weren’t super believable. One such thing, for instance, was Winter and Scarlet winning the mutant soldiers to their side so quickly. I get that they were on a time crunch, Meyer was on a time crunch/deadline, but it felt slightly rushed at the least. At least give it more time to develop, like Wolf and Scarlet’s relationship, which started to blossom after at least several days, not just a few hours. I also never really got why the whole “Peony chip” thing held so much significance, since it was just tossed away in the Benoit field later and kind of forgotten. (I mean, I got WHY they showed what Peony meant to Cinder, and the fact of what the chips were being used for, but since both are so important, I would assume it wouldn’t be tossed aside so meaninglessly like that, without much thought afterwards.)

Overall, my rating: 4.75 out of 5 stars. I’m a tough rater, so kudos to whoever makes it to 4+ stars. 🙂 These books and series are usually ones that have earned it, and “The Lunar Chronicles definitely has.

___________________________

Image Credits:

http://maybeicantbesaved.tumblr.com/Books

In Defense of the Darkling

In Defense of the Darkling

 

*cue the crickets and me getting awkward stares*

wrongwithmegif

OK, OK, confession time… I do this really weird thing where I often put up my defenses about a certain fictionalized character with a bad or semi-bad rep, and act like I’m trashing them, when deep, deep down, I secretly have a bit of a crush on them. THEN the crush emerges eventually, full steam ahead, and part of me feels like I need to recant every single, stinking thing bad I’ve said about them. I mean, one part of me’s going,

facepalmgif

Whereas the selfish, boneheaded, kinda dark and kinda “I want whatever I want” persona (aka my Id/Subconscious that I CONSTANTLY need to keep under a deadbolt, lest all havoc break loose) has a reaction that’s more like,

babiesgif

(I’m guessing you probably did NOT see that coming, on MY blog, of all places…)

It ’tis the sad, sad, newly exposed truth that I do indeed have this inner war embroiled inside of me, when I should be giving all of me to God, the One Who made me and loves me dearly. But then my inner fangirl kicks in (especially with darker, more enigmatic, more sympathetic characters like the Darkling and N from Pokemon), and there’s usually very little you (or I) can do to stop the current from flowing.

So what do I do?

justkeepswimming

…. But again, I digress. (I tend to do that a lot, in case you haven’t already noticed.)

Anywho, so today Imma show some sympathetic love to one of my favorite villains of all time (and who Alina totally does NOT deserve to have), Mr. Darkling, himself (who no one at this point can totally tell that I’m slightly obsessed with 😛 ).

No, I am not going to make a list, as much as I adore them, because the Darkling is too cool to have a list. Instead, I’m going to give you just some general feedback to why I think people ought to be more sympathetic. In a human, moral, Christian way, of course.

Don’t get me wrong here, I am not at ALL condoning his actions. I’m not denying he has done some pretty horrible things, like killing/torturing (certain) people, in a very Machiavellian way, BUT I am also not denying that he is a VERY human, and obviously very broken character. We humans ALL struggle with sin and our inner guilt (some are more obvious than others). The biggest concern I had for the Darkling was his pride; it’s the greatest of the Seven Deadly Sins, and there is some merit to the old saying, “pride goeth before the fall”. That, and the fact that basically he was corrupted by political power– that just confirmed my conservative Libertarian beliefs that political power corrupts pretty much any human being it touches, even those with the best intentions (and believe me, the Darkling started with good intentions. He just wanted his people to be safe, be cared for, not hunted like wild animals, and showing that they were just as useful to their country, if not better. Not a bad motive to necessarily start with.). But even the Darkling must have realized at some point that the whole power thing was going to drive him nuts with corruption eventually, and it seems that, deep down, he DIDN’T want that. Therefore, he decided, a balance was in order. Similar to our “checks and balances,” so one side of the system doesn’t go all hog-wild power-crazy.TeamDarkling

That hopeful balance’s name was Alina Starkov– the Sun Summoner. Like, literally, she isn’t just a political balance, but a natural balance, as well. The light to his dark. The yang to his yin. The jelly to his PB. You get the idea.

So, we have a broken and beautiful guy, who wants a balance so he’s not outta control, is incredibly lonely even for a Grisha (since he is nearly one-of-a-kind in his abilities) and just freaking WANTS A BUDDY (not just another almost brainless follower, a buddy, an equal) TO LOVE AND BE LOVED. I mean, he’s been feared and fought over for his power his WHOLE FLIPPING LIFE, with the only known love reciprocater being his Mommy Dearest, who goes around smacking people around with her stick whenever she feels like it, and who also egged him on in his pride. Sheesh. No wonder the poor guy’s got issues to begin with.

That also brings me to the first of two theories. See, during the general trilogy, the Darkling, like most Grisha, holds a kind of general distrust, wariness, and overall personal superiority over otkazat’sya, or normal people who AREN’T Grisha. But why? I mean, I get that Fjerdans burn them as witches, Shu Han carve them up because they believe their blood/organs to be magical or whatever, and the Kerch sell them as slaves, BUT… here’s my main point… NOT all otkazat’sya are like that. And I think at one time, he may have realized that. You see, in Bardugo’s “Demon in the Woods: A Darkling Prequel Story,” it is revealed that, when he was an awkward young teen (yes, it IS hard to believe, but bear with me on this, please), during his temporary shelter-hopping life with Baghra, they come across a Grisha camp around the Fjerdan borders. There, he kind of befriends a young Tidemaker, Annika, and her little otkazat’sya sister, Sylvi (think six or so years old). It is implied that Sylvi might be the GT’s version of Harry Potter’s squibs. But she neither hankers for the Darkling’s power, like her sister eventually does (which forces him to kill her in an act of last resort self-defense), nor is she terrified of it. Instead, she is fascinated, enjoying touching the inky darkness that pools from his hands, and almost looking up to him in a sense, pretending to be Grisha after he saves them from cruel bullies, specifically one like him, saying that she wishes to “learn how to do that.” The Darkling actually seems pleasantly surprised at this, like this is the first time it’s happened. Sylvi surprises him even further by inquiring about his likes and dislikes, such as his favorite colors and foods– evidently, no one’s ever bothered even asking him before, or getting to know him at all. But, sadly, it is unlikely the two ever saw each other again after the Annika and Lev incident, where the two tried fighting over him, to kill him for his amplifying power– and both getting cut down, literally, themselves. Still, it begs the question of why he prefers Grisha to otkazat’sya. 

However, if we look at his conversation with Alina about them, we may find answers. At one point, he questions her “taste” for otkazat’sya, asking if it was because she thought at one point SHE was one; she fires back with a question of her own, asking if he’s always held disdain for them. He answers that he doesn’t disdain them exactly, but understands them to the point that he knows they will die off much sooner than long-living Grisha, and their minds are easily turned against them. This, along with Bardugo’s clever slipping in of Alina wondering how many people he has mourned in his long, long life, if that number included any friends, if at all, or even a wife. So here’s my theory:

He had an otkazat’sya friend he was very, very close with, perhaps even a girlfriend or a wife/lover. Maybe he was like Alina with Mal, only for an otkazat’sya girl, and knows, deep down in his heart, that it didn’t work out. That she grew old and died, and he kept living, and that realization shook him to the core. But I think the same appeal of Sylvi would have stuck with him; they wouldn’t have been able to use his amplifying power, after all,  unless they were able to capture him and sell him off to the highest Grisha bidder to be killed. Who knows? Perhaps Sylvi stayed in touch with him somehow, and they were able to still maintain and grow in their friendship (he would’ve had to keep the truth of his sister’s death a secret, though… Although, now that I think of it, maybe that’s what happened. She learned the truth, grew to hate him for it no matter what he said in his defense, and left him all alone. #FANFICIDEA).

So, he’s in a predicament. He feels he can’t trust otkazat’sya at this point, obviously, but he’s always under fire with fellow Grisha, because if they so much as brush against his arm/hand, they’re sure to feel the surge of power within them, realizing he’s a living amplifier. Between that, and wanting to rule the world (or at least Ravka and the surrounding countries) for the sake of his hunted people who some of which may want to kill him (as well as various kings and otkazat’sya assassins) , he needs a plan. An associate. Someone he can be himself around, start to trust and gain confidence in, an equal in power, who can sit on the dais next to him.

Again, enter Alina.

The primary problem with her is, she’s already crushing on a guy– an otkazat’sya, Mal. Who in my own opinion is not worth the bat of a lash. (I mean, c’mon, if she so much as mentions the Darkling and tries to confide in him in the hopes of him supporting her, what does he do? He brawls with Grisha, sometimes drunk, sometimes not. He goes and kisses Zoya. Then he gets drunk on kvas when Alina needs him most, practically passes out because of his non-commitment and “I couldn’t care less” selfish attitude, and WHO shows up to support her, instead? I repeat, WHO? That’s RIGHT— THE DARKLING!!!!!…. Who, BTW, to make her feel better even comes in to be with her LOOKING like Mal, to help ease her distress, to a– albeit slightly creepy–degree. OK, OK, personal rant over.) So he’s willing to forgive/overlook more betrayal on her part, but is very willing to kill Mal to get what he wants, and feels he needs (not simply out of vengeful jealousy). Alina is one of the rare people who even remotely looks at him for who he is as a PERSON, but is usually torn between that, and all the crimes he commits because she runs off and leaves him, half the time thinking of him as a monster. This is a confusing, contradictory, double-sided, and incredibly hurtful way to to think of someone. It takes very little imagination to realize what he must have felt.

darkling3

In short, the Darkling is an incredibly powerful, immensely lonely, beautiful, broken person who is desperate. Desperate for a companion, desperate for love, desperate for his people, desperate for power, but also desperate to control himself– knowing he can’t do it by himself. If he were real (and this situation might or might not get awkward eventually), I would seriously be tempted to just HUG him, BECAUSE SO MANY FREAKING FEELS (That probably would not end well. At the very least, if he didn’t use the Cut, he’d probably get an Oprichnik to peel me off him.) . I’ve been there before, been so lonely and depressed it’s nearly killed me. If I was that devastated in just a few short years in early high school, I can barely imagine what it would do to a 120 year old Grisha, give or take a few years. It’s surprising he’s held up even that well, honestly, especially considering he doesn’t believe in God.(Which also kills me, but hey, Bardugo’s a secular author, so what can you do?)  But maybe that’s the reason he let Alina (spoiler alert) stab him at the end.

Another surprising fact or two about him: He has a big sweet tooth (yaaaaaasssss), and no, his favorite color is NOT black, but rich reds, deep blues, and a golden-ish yellow, like sunlight (another bonus of being Alina’s possible friend).

darkling4

Anyways, that brings me to sum up with a final thought and a theory: No matter what anyone thinks of him, the Darkling is still very much a HUMAN character. He does horrible, terrible things, yes, but really– what or who PUSHED him to sin? We are all born with a sinful nature, yes, but usually there’s a bit of a trigger, an instigator or two. As I’ve shown, the Darkling had at least a few possible instigators. And again, I’m certainly NOT condoning any of his horrific crimes (though we would do well in remembering he often chooses to make empty threats to get the job done, as well as a few legit threats that he does follow through with), merely pointing out that he’s a broken, but very human, sinner.

Now to the theory, the most infamous GT of all time…

The Darkling may have faked his death, and put a substitute corpse on his pyre, similar to Alina. 

While there is implication his death *may* have been genuine (Bardugo has stated that some certain deaths in her books were very much permanent, although we should note that she DID NOT SPECIFY, as well as stating that there were a LOT of uncertainties at the end of Ruin and Rising), we would also do well to recall that this is the Darkling we’re talking about, with AGES of experience in faking his death under his belt. Besides, we don’t know who it was who arranged “his” body on that pyre, to make it look so nice, etc. for him. Whoever it was must have cared about him, or at least feared/respected him, to a degree. Additionally, Bardugo mentioned in a separate interview that, to quote Nikolai in the instance of him possibly having survived, that it was only IMPROBABLE that he survived, and NOT impossible. But, between that and her earlier quote that certain deaths are permanent, it is honestly hard to know which to believe… So if I were to ever meet her in person, you’d BETTER believe I’m going to ask her that!

Also, we should recall the infamous, very hyped up quote about the Darkling, via Siege and Storm, “Darkness never dies”. 🙂

teamDarkling1

______________________________

Image Credit:

http://www.fanpop.com/clubs/the-grisha-trilogy/images/37781820/title/team-darkling-fanart

https://www.tumblr.com/search/yes%20i%20would%20have%20his%20babies%20gif

http://www.reactiongifs.com/picard-facepalm/

https://giphy.com/search/wrong-with-me

Pinterest– the Darkling and the Grisha Trilogy

Pinterest– lbardguo–Fan Art and Swag!

 

Reasons Why Attending College is Like Attending Hogwarts

Reasons Why Attending College is Like Attending Hogwarts

I hope you guys don’t mind, but one thing I’m going to be doing a lot more on my blog is posting not only more reviews, and more story posts, but also more random, fangirl-y posts. These often will be quite sporadic, so keep your eyes peeled… Because you never know when my inner geekette may zap the internet next…

fangirlgif1

You know how I was talking a while back about how Hogwarts houses can actually directly correlate to certain PokeDex Holders from Pokemon Adventures? Well, a few months ago, my roomies and I were talking HP, since we all like it, know about it, and one of said roommates is a MAJOR Potterhead. (We’re talking totally geeked-out Hufflepuff. In a kinda good, very… interesting sense. LOL) Another one of my less fangirl-y roomies mentioned how, despite Hogwarts have middle school to high school aged kiddos in it, most real middle and high schoolers can’t really relate to Hogwarts. Much. Whereas in college, or university, you get the much fuller sense of being at a place similar to Hogwarts. And the more I thought about it, I thought: She’s right.

And then: That idea totally belongs in a blog post. 

Yet-Here-We-Are

Sooooo, without further ado, I present to you, all of the ways that we college/university kids are like Hogwarts kids!!

  1. Sorting/Departments. OK, you can’t EXACTLY call declaring a major “Sorting,” but in a sense, it comes pretty close. Even during the Sorting process, the hat often takes into account the wearer’s wishes and personal preferences, so even if they’re indecisive, it helps them to decide. Once their house is picked, so is their dorms, their table, and who they will, for the most part, have classes with. Don’t get me wrong; at college/university, majors of ALL shapes and sizes share dorms, lunch tables, SOME classes, etc. But English Literature Majors discuss the great works of Shakespeare with fellow English Lits, Writing, and English Education Majors; Chemistry Majors work on blowing things up with other Chemistry Majors; Marketing and Business Majors converse and conspire with one another to get you to buy things– you get the general idea. Even though you’re not forbidden (obviously) from making friends outside your major (for instance– I’m a Writing Major, with two Engineering Majors, and one Student Ministry Major, roomie(s).), you tend to gravitate more towards the people you have the most in common with, the people you’re most likely to see in very similar classes a LOT. Granted, we all take Gen Eds, so you’re bound to run into people you wouldn’t normally see, but for the most part, it’ll be familiar faces. sortinggif
  2. The Head of Department/ your Adviser is essentially the same thing as a Head of House– in a way, at least. Think of having Professor McGonagall as your adviser, or Head of Department. Now THAT would be amazing. (Not that you aren’t already the bomb.com, Dr. Williams 😉 ) mcgonagallgif
  3. Speaking of which, in both colleges/universities, AND Hogwarts, you call teachers by “Professor,” rather than “Mr.”, “Mrs.”, “Ms.”, or “teacher” (the last would be incredibly awkward to call a professor/teacher to their face, whereas you can call a professor just, “Professor,” and they will still likely respond– unoffended. ). 
  4. In colleges/universities, as well as Hogwarts, it is often students’ first real experience in living independently. Visiting the surrounding towns/cities on weekends? Check. Staying in with friends/roomies? Check. Learning how to be an independent adult? Check. Doing homework almost constantly? Check. Getting involved in future- beneficial clubs and a host of activities to keep you busy? Check. HPfriends
  5. Branching out and meeting new people from different areas, different walks of life, or even the world. Ron and Hermoine were from different parts of the country than Harry; it was unlikely that they would’ve met at all if Harry had not to Hogwarts. The Patil twins are from India, and Cho Chang is implied to be Chinese. At my own college, we have a somewhat racially diverse group– I’d say about 75% white American, 25% other. The “other” includes blacks, Malaysians, Koreans (or a few Korean Americans 😉 #Molly), a New Zealander, and even a Japanese student or two. I’ve heard Spanish been spoken a few times by those fluent in it on campus, as well some Asian languages. Simply fascinating.great-hallgif
  6. You can often (though not always) discuss controversial topics with professors, without getting shut down for it. Harry was able to discuss the Chamber of Secrets with his, and many professors (though there are a good bit, unfortunately, who tend to shy away from such topics due to political correctness– happened to me with a secular history professor at a local community college.) are able and willing to discuss religion and politics… two pluralistic no-nos in high school society.snapegif
  7. You’re treated more like an adult. Even at Hogwarts, sometimes younger kids are given big responsibilities. At college, you are given these responsibilities and are expected to act on them as an adult.

Are there any other ways you can think of Hogwarts being like college/university?

_________________________________

Image Credits:

You can now enjoy a magical Valentine’s Day dinner in the Hogwarts Great Hall

https://giphy.com/search/harry-potter

http://www.viralshack.com/tumblr-love-praise-for-professor-mcgonagall/

https://www.tenor.co/view/sorting-hat-harrypotter-gryffindor-hogwarts-gif-4929271

http://www.neogaf.com/forum/showthread.php?p=204317430

http://wallpapercave.com/harry-potter-desktop-backgrounds